Monthly Archives: March 2015

Specialty Jewelers Losing Share

This is reposted article published in JCK online magazine

millenial-shoppers-1By Rob Bates, News Director
Posted on March 23, 2015

Specialty jewelers are seeing their share of the market shrink, as other channels like online and mass merchants grab a larger slice of the pie, according to a new study of the U.S. diamond market from analyst Edahn Golan.

The report, which can be downloaded here, finds that in the last two years, specialty jewelers—defined as both independents and jewelry chains—held a 43 percent share of the market, compared to around 50 percent in the 1990s.

“The loss of market share is a long-term trend,” says Golan. “If you look at it on a year-over-year basis, sometimes there is good news because the market share improves. But on a long-term basis, you see specialty jewelers losing market share.”

Based on Jewelers Board of Trade and Census Bureau statistics, Golan calculates that the number of jewelry stores dropped 2.1 percent over the last year and has fallen 21 percent since 2007.

Despite this, he feels that independents still play a valuable role in the market.

“I would much rather go to a store where I know the owner and I can talk to them and I can go back three four years later and they know my name,” he says. “To me that’s worth a premium. The question for the independents is: How do they offer special service and make sure customers know that it’s there?”

The study also finds that millennials (defined here as ages 25 to 34) are now the predominant force in the jewelry market, spending an average of $786 per household, 28 percent more than other groups.

But they have different tastes than other buyers, Golan says.

“The trend is: Same but different,” he says. “Millennials may want an engagement ring, but it won’t necessarily be a diamond or a big center stone. It may have a different setting. It’s important retailers recognize they are catering to a group with different needs. But if they do cater to them, they will get their business.”

Other noteworthy facts from the report:

– The holiday season is still the most wonderful time of the year for jewelry sales, though its importance has lessened (a bit). In 2014, it accounted for 26.4 percent—about a quarter—of all industry revenue. Between 1992 and 2007, it averaged 32 percent—about one-third—of jewelry sales.

U.S. fine jewelry sales totaled $68.8 billion in 2014, a 1.4 percent increase over the prior year, and a record.

– Watch sales did better last year, hitting $9.13 billion, a 7.7 percent jump.

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Bringing the Emotion Back

March 13th, 2015 published in “The JA Report”

I think this is a great article that was published in the jewelry industry online magazine, The JS Report, about changing trends in bridal.

The State of Bridal Jewelry Today

EngagementRing_1461385c

How do you reach the millennial bridal customer? That was the question posed to jewelry industry bridal experts during a panel at Women’s Jewelry Association’s In The Know Conference on March 10. The experts included: Phyllis Bergman of Mercury Ring; Miriam Gumuchian, of Gumuchian; Jenny Luker, Platinum Guild International; Amanda Elser, editor at The Knot.

“The concern that I’m hearing all over the industry is that we’ve taken the emotion out of bridal and replaced it with numbers and made it a commodity. We are at a critical time in that we have to bring back the emotion.”

There Is No Denying Social
Millennials shop for bridal on a different way, on social and sharing/hinting to their partners. The consensus for the entryway to bridal jewelry is Pinterest. Elser describes it as “sneaky” — with leaving screenshots, pinning photos, tagging things on Instagram so their friends and partners can see. She likened it to the modern version of folding in corners of magazine ads and photos for boyfriends to see.

Gumuchian agreed: “The millennial doesn’t give a s*** about ads,” she said. “It is more important to see what the acting world, singing world — celebrity is wearing.”

Luker noted that PGI is focusing on experiential websites and media, because younger consumers want to experience a product and the feeling behind it.

The way jewelers can get in on the new media platform to grab younger customer attention include:

  • posting on social media, like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest
  • featuring a CRM program to followup with customers who come into the store to browse and may not purchase in that visit
  • following trends and featuring “non-traditional” bridal
Men Still Shop In Store
The retail store still plays a very important role. As Bergman explained, the retail store provides affirmation that the customer is selecting the right ring and answers their questions. While the bride investigates and creates wishlists online, “the groom goes into the store” said Elser.What Sells & What Is Trending

  • Yellow and gold metal are coming back, but consumers always go back to classic according to the panelists. Classic styles are still what sells, both Bergman and Elser agreed. But there is a need to sell unique designs within the classic settings.
  • An example of trends within the classic category is stacking wedding rings or mixing and matching metal tones — yellow and white — for the engagement and band.
  • Baguette cuts
  • Vintage rings are a trend The Knot is seeing. “Because there is meaning,” explained Elser. “[Couples] love that story behind the ring and that talking point.”
  • Personalization is also very important to younger customers.
  • For second marriages and beyond, the consensus was that rings are bigger and more ornate or intricate designs.
  • When asked about synthetic diamonds, Bergman spoke about how it is a great concern to sellers of natural diamonds. She emphasized that it is going to help bring back the emphasis on the story and the precious origin of natural diamonds.